TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

ABA to Toughen Bar Passage Accreditation Standard

ABA LogoABA Journal, ABA Committee to Revisit Bar Passage Accreditation Standard:

An ABA committee appears to be having second thoughts about its tentative decision last year not to recommend any changes in the law school accreditation standard dealing with bar passage rates.

What precipitated the collective change of heart? A preliminary analysis of attrition rates for candidates who sat for the multistate bar exam in July 2006 that appears to show how ineffectual the current standard is.

That analysis, performed by staffers at the National Conference of Bar Examiners, found that out of the nearly 31,000 law school graduates it could identify who took the test at that time, less than 1%, or 248 graduates, were still sitting for the bar on its fifth administration, 2½ years later. By its 10th administration, five years later, only 13 graduates who took the test in July 2006 were still sitting for the bar.

Under the current standard, a law school can meet the bar passage requirement in one of three ways:

  • It can demonstrate that 75% of its graduates in the previous five years who took the bar passed.
  • It can demonstrate that in at least three of the past five years, 75% of its graduates who took the bar passed.
  • It can demonstrate that its first-time bar passage rate in at least three of the previous five years was no more than 15 points below the average bar passage rate for ABA-approved law schools in the states where its graduates took the bar.

In the past, the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar’s Standards Review Committee, which is working on a comprehensive overhaul of the law school accreditation standards, has kicked around the idea of strengthening the bar passage standard either by raising the 75% threshold to 80%, lowering the 15% requirement to 10%, or reducing the five-year time frame to three years.

But the committee had tentatively decided last year not to make any substantive changes in the existing standard, fearing among other things that it might lead law schools to take fewer risks in deciding who to admit and affect their willingness to recruit and enroll minority students because minority test-takers tend to score lower on the bar exam than nonminorities.

That all appeared to change after the committee, which met over the weekend in Chicago, was briefed on the results of the NCBE analysis of test-taker attrition rates by committee member Erica Moeser, its president and CEO, who has called for a tougher bar pass standard.

Committee chair Jeffrey Lewis,a professor and former dean at St. Louis University School of Law, said the NCBE’s figures seemed to render the five-year window for meeting the requirement in the current standard meaningless. “Why have an out for schools that doesn’t represent anything?” he asked.

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2012/07/aba-to-toughen-.html

Legal Education | Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c4eab53ef0177436aa6ad970d

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference ABA to Toughen Bar Passage Accreditation Standard:

Comments

Just like the good l'il Marxists they are. Lawyers, "the root of America's problem" so lets make it more exclusive shall we... Seriously, Laws should be written in language that is easy to understand. Each Law must include both a Sunset claus and the definition of the laws intentions by the author. I shouldnt need to pay a lawyer to do what I should be able to do better. Basically you spend many thousands of dollars learning the arcane processes of Law and how to redifine it at will. Just what all tyrannical Govts have done throughout history.

Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security

Posted by: LibsRscaryMAD | Jul 17, 2012 11:37:34 AM

But the committee had tentatively decided last year not to make any substantive changes in the existing standard, fearing among other things that it might lead law schools to take fewer risks in deciding who to admit and affect their willingness to recruit and enroll minority students because minority test-takers tend to score lower on the bar exam than nonminorities.

Stupid question of the day: how does it help a minority to be admitted to law school, accrue $100,000 of nondischargeable student loan debt, and then never be able to be an attorney?

Admission is not the end game here; becoming an attorney (or having a great, non-attorney job, ideally without attorney-level student loan debt and having lost three years of your life chasing a fruitless career) is.

Posted by: Roxeanne de Luca | Jul 17, 2012 12:22:00 PM

One per cent "still sitting for the bar" 2.5 years later. Did the other 99% all pass the exam before that? Or did some unstated percentage finally give up after 2, 3, or 4 failed attempts? I hope the study accounts for the discouraged.

Posted by: OC Domer | Jul 17, 2012 3:16:47 PM